SPEAK, a social tech startup founded in Portugal, launched a platform “SPEAK For Ukraine” aimed at responding to the need to integrate over 4 million refugees who have been forced to leave Ukraine. The initiative started on March 12th, 16 days after the beginning of the war in Ukraine on February 24th. With over 40K registered Ukrainian refugees in Lithuania, SPEAK Lithuania, the organization’s presence in the country, is set to play an important role in helping them to integrate into their new communities.
This platform connects volunteers to organizations, as well as Ukrainian war refugees who, after arriving in their host country, need assistance to break the language barrier and join an informal network of support. Within the first days of launching the platform, hundreds of sign-ups were already registered from over 60 cities worldwide, and a number of Ukrainian refugees have already started learning Lithuanian and English in major Lithuanian cities.
SPEAK, which connects migrants, refugees, and locals through a language and culture exchange program and has a community of over 50K people from 12 global countries, launched the platform in collaboration with the Representation for the European Commission in Portugal and “BeHuman”, a non-profit Portuguese association. The project is also supported by Ageas Foundation, a Portuguese foundation aiding social welfare institutions.
“SPEAK For Ukraine” helps:
- refugees from Ukraine to get free and easy access to language groups, where they can learn the host country’s language. They are also given an opportunity to join emotional support groups aimed at helping them and their families to integrate into local communities;
- volunteers to support refugees from Ukraine by leading language groups, teaching the local language, and supporting organizations with translation and/or interpretation services from Ukrainian or Russian to a multitude of languages;
- organizations and civil society to refer refugees, as well sign-ups, to the network of volunteer translators/interpreters, and giving them access to emotional support groups.
“Through “SPEAK For Ukraine” we want to complement the work SPEAK already develops in different cities around the world where it has an active presence—an assistance to refugees and migrants to integrate in local communities and overcome the language barrier,” said Hugo Menino Aguiar, co-founder and CEO at SPEAK. “With this platform, we have created a solution for integration not simply at the individual level, but at the family level as well.
This way we guarantee families can overcome the language barrier and build an informal support network in their host country by expanding our community to Ukraine’s neighboring countries where SPEAK does not yet have an active presence. At the same time, we seek to guarantee that organizations all over Europe that work with refugees can find all the linguistic and integration support they need at “SPEAK For Ukraine” initiative.”
All news regarding the initiative is available at www.speakforukraine.org or through the hashtag #SPEAKforUkraine.
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